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Monday, January 9, 2012

Wines of the Week: Terra d'Oro, a Reasonable Cab Substitute

Posted By on Mon, Jan 9, 2012 at 9:30 AM

Italian varietals of wine grapes have been grown in California since the early days of the gold rush, when they came with a wave of Italian immigrants, the Mondavis among them. Terra d'Oro Winery has made Italian varietals in the Sierra Foothills since the 1970s. At $18 a bottle, you may want to try one in lieu of your next Cabernet purchase. Try decanting them and seeing if your guests can figure out what they are; our guess is a few will think they never left the comfort zone

Wine: 2009 Terra d'Oro Aglianico

Notes: Dark canned cherry juice color with a nice soft nose of cherry-mocha-cola and spice. Hits you with juicy first and a bit of bitter thereafter, as a modest reminder of the tannin. The dark cherry flavor resurfaces toward the end in a light mocha-vanilla bath in the mouth. Touches of dusty spice flit throughout the experience. Slightly drying. Would likely benefit from decanting, aeration, or bottle age (3 years+).

Varietal Insight: An ancient grape, originally planted by the ancient Greeks over 2000 years ago and a relative rarity in California.

Sells For: $18 Drinks Like: $23

 Wine: 2009 Terra d'Oro Barbera

 Notes: Dark wild-plum-skin color. Smells fresh out of the barrel with notes of the wood that give a vanilla-like characteristic that comes through a dark-cherry nose. Light, soft mouth at the start puckers up a bit at mid palate and brings out some lightly-bitter, roast-cacao notes. High acidity calls out for food. 

Varietal Insight: Hails from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy, and, unlike the relatively rare Aglianico, is the sixth most planted grape in California. 

Sells For: $18 

Drinks Like: $25- $28 (28 to start, 25 at the middle, back to 28 at the end).

Wine: 2008 Terra d'Oro Sangiovese

Notes: Color of pale blood, but with a glimmer. Definite notes of vanilla on the nose attest to oak, perhaps too much so. Juicy mouth, touch of black pepper, and nice balance of acidity. This wine also craves food. Slightly souring finish throws off the experience a bit, but a reasonable wine at a more than reasonable price.

Varietal Insight: This may be Italy's best known grape, used in Chianti Classico and the coveted "Super Tuscan" wines.

Sells For: $18 

Drinks Like: $25

Where to score them: BevMo, Searchlight Market and Zain's Liquor

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Ben Narasin


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